Huffing and puffing, I looked passed the closed gate door, could see the plane sitting there, and then heard the gate agent tell me that I was too late. Anger began to swell up in me. This was what I had been afraid of. I knew it when the plane was late leaving Birmingham. I knew it when I was running through the Atlanta airport. I knew it as I got to the empty gate. I was going to miss my flight. And not only was I going to miss my flight, it would be another 24 hours before I could catch another plane. That’s right...24 long hours!
I pleaded with the agent. After all, the plane was still there! When I got no response, I came as close as a 41 year old pastor comes to pitching a public fit. And then, four things happened. First, a wonderful lady at the Delta ticket desk disarmed me with her warmth and helpfulness. Then, one of our elders, and a dear brother in Christ, sent me a text. He wrote: “Every detail. He is providentially watching and providing. He is sovereign. Every detail.” Ahhh. The truth of who God is and how He works. I needed that.
Next, I received a similar, though more abbreviated reminder from the pastor I was to meet in Uganda: “God’s Providence...!!!” Again, I needed that. Then finally, I remembered what I had just written. Who needs the gospel? I do.
In Christ, I was forgiven for my fit of anger. I was forgiven for my lack of understanding and trust in God’s goodness, and His provision, and none of it was because of me. All of it was because of Christ. At that point, the healing began, and my heart rate relaxed. What I then began to see was that these 24 hours were a gift. God in His kindness, gave me a day to slow down. He gave me a day to relax, to read, to pray, and to refocus. It was the Sabbath that I all too rarely take, and I almost missed it because I was in too big a hurry to get to the next thing.
The truth is, the mission did not miss a beat. The team in Uganda got along just fine without me. The people in Alabama didn’t blink an eye. The world kept right along moving, and my work waited a day. In the meantime, I enjoyed a day, studying in a hotel and reading in the airport. It was a reminder that I needed all too well. The Lord knows what He is doing, and He works all things for the good of those who love Him, even when we have moments (long or short), where we forget.